Popularising technical research & editorial support
Leonie regularly works with researchers, academics, and organisations to transform technical scientific findings and reports into material that is more accessible to a non-specialist audience, using journalistic techniques and storytelling.
She may write the material herself, or work in collaboration with the researchers involved.
She also assists with content editing on documents that are scientifically technical, but nevertheless target specialist readers such as technocrats or other researchers.
EPRU & EfD
Leonie works with researchers from the Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) and the Environment for Development (EfD) initiative, assisting them to communicate their findings to policymakers and the public. EPRU is based at the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics, and is part of the Environmental for Development (EfD) initiative at Gothenburg University in Sweden. EfD is a network of environmental economists in the developing world who aim to bring evidence-based ideas to inform sustainable development. Includes training and mentoring academics in writing using news formats for a popular and non-scientific audience (January 2015 until present).
The following articles were written on behalf of, or in partnership with, the academics and practitioners involved, and were placed with the target publications:
- An opinion piece for the Daily Maverick, written on behalf of Dr Jane Turpie from the University of Cape Town’ Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU): Clearing thirsty alien trees will yield water returns for Cape Town, 2 July 2018.
- An opinion piece, written by Prof Martine Visser and reworked for popular publication in the Daily Maverick: SOUTH AFRICA: A drought-stricken Cape Town did come together to save water, 1 March 2018.
- An opinion piece written on behalf of Prof Martine Visser and colleagues at EPRU for the Mail & Guardian: Public praise drives water-wise behaviour: A lesson for city managers, 13 March 2017.
African Centre for Cities
Building a Capable State: Service Delivery in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2018): content and language editor on the book produced for team at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town.
African Climate & Development Initiative
Early in 2018, Leonie produced a six-part series of feature articles on the impact of climate change on semi-arid environments in southern Africa with the University of Cape Town’s African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI) and the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project.
The articles targeted key newspapers in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, the first of which have been published here:
- Story 1: A climate of change for cash cows, Mail & Guardian, 16 March 2018.
- Story 2: Mopane worms sound climate alert, Mail & Guardian, 4 May 2018.
- Story 3: Water usage lessons from Namibia, Mail & Guardian, 18 May 2018 and Why decentralised water could be the solution to Namibia’s water crisis, CNBC Africa, 16 March 2018.
- Story 4: Botswana to cross critical temperature threshold in less than a decade, Mmegi Online, 4 May 2018
- Story 5: 'Maybe God is angry': Science, religion and tradition at forefront of climate change response, Mmegi Online, 18 May 2018
- Story 6: African small-scale farmers need more than just land to survive climate change, Mmegi Online, 8 June 2018
Energy Research Centre
Leonie worked with researchers at the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre (ERC) in 2015 to assist them with writing and communicating the outcomes of the five-country Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (MAPS) teams outputs. MAPS includes South Africa, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Brazil and is described as: ‘a collaboration amongst developing countries to establish the evidence base for long term transition to robust economies that are carbon efficient. In this way MAPS contributes to ambitious climate change mitigation that aligns economic development with poverty alleviation’.
South African National biodiversity Institute
Ongoing communications support on various projects, including:
- Life: the State of South Africa’s Biodiversity
- Making the Case for Biodiversity series.
- An opinion piece written with SANBI’s Kirstal Maze for the Mail & Guardian: Restoring water catchment areas leaves us flush, 20 Mar 2014.
Assisted the Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and SouthSouthNorth with writing, editing and proof reading support on various projects, including the Future Climate for Africa report and the FONERWA Climate Risk Screening Tool (2018).
Also assisted SSN and CDKN with MAPS - the Mitigation and Adaptation Plans & Scenarios process - offering editorial support on certain blogs and briefs (± 2012 to 2014).
Stellenbosch University's new voices in science
Assisted the Stellenbosch University Postgraduate & International Office with training and editorial support for post graduate students in how to communicate their findings to non-academic audiences though the New Voices in Science competitions and resulting magazines (2014 and 2015).
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Reviewer for the Climate Change Handbook for African Journalists, Heinrich Böll Foundation & Inter Press Service (IPS) (2009).